How to Teach your Kids to Handle Conflict

arguing

Since adults have a hard time handling conflict, it’s no wonder that kids don’t know what to do when they have been offended or hurt.

Relationships take work, plain and simple. No matter how hard we try, each day people who love each other hurt each other. Everyday someone hurts someone they love without meaning to.

  • a misunderstanding
  • an expectation that isn’t met
  • a cross word that leads to another, then another, then another

But with every hurt that happens, there is always a choice that follows. What do I do? Do I get mad? Do I ignore it? Do I talk to them? Do I talk to others? Depending on the choice, the relationship will either grow healthier or weaken.

When my children were little, we had one rule where relationships were concerned, “If someone is doing something you don’t like, POLITELY ask them to stop. If they don’t stop, talk to an adult” (or who ever is in charge.) This is based on Mathew 18:15-16, 15 “If your brother or sistersins,go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

Clearly everything that bothers or offends my children isn’t always “sin” as referred to in Matthew. It also isn’t always something that needs to be stopped. But the concept to go and talk about a situation with the person is valuable. And listening to other people’s point of view about a situation will help to know if a person should be offended or not.

Now that my kids are older, there are many more relationships in their life that require work. Sometimes they share with me if there is a situation that bothers them and sometimes they don’t. These are the steps that I encourage my children to take:

PRAY – God knows what happened; He knows the whole situation; He knows why it happened; He knows what you are feeling; He knows what the other person is feeling; He knows what needs to be done; He knows how it should be done.

DECIDE:

LET IT GO – After praying about it you may realize that the person never intended it the way you are taking it.

Or

TALK ABOUT IT

  • To Parents – I would suggest that my kids talk to me or their father about it. Parents usually have good perspective and can encourage them to do the right thing. (Warning: don’t become mama bear and take over the situation. God wants us to teach our kids and the best way to learn is by doing it ourselves!)
  • The Person – I tell my kids to respectfully go to the person, privately. That way they can share how they are feeling and can listen to the response. Sometime there will be an apology and it ends. Sometimes the two sides are shared and the two people leave without agreeing, but still friends.

IF IT IS NOT RESOLVED

  • Then I suggest my children share it with someone in authority.  It may be a parent, captain of a sport’s team, coach, youth leader, pastor, etc…
  • An impartial person is always good to give perspective.
  • Then if it is the right choice, they both can talk to the person.

FORGIVE – Always, always, always forgive. Whether the person says sorry or not. Whether the person changes their actions or not. Forgiveness is the one thing you are in control of in a relationship. Remember all that you have been forgiven. Just as God loves you and forgives you. You can show His love by forgiving others.

Relationships are hard; they take work. There’s not always just one right answer. I hope this helps!

Be Blessed!

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